Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag ... And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. Her flagship column, “Ask a Clean Person”, debuted in 2011. Here on Lifehacker, we’ve launched a new iteration of it, focusing on parenting and all the messes it brings.
How do I get chocolate ice cream stains out of my daughter’s beautiful pink and yellow dress?!?
The weather's warming up, and Australia is headed toward Chocolate Ice Cream Season. So let’s talk about chocolate stain removal.
The Scoop on Dairy Stains
While we’re mostly here to talk about chocolate stains, we should detour and review the things to know about treating dairy, because the question in, um, question is about ice cream.
Dairy is a protein stain, so an enzymatic stain remover will be the thing to use on stains caused by dairy of any sort, whether it be ice cream, milk, cheese or so on. A good one to try is Puracy Stain Remover. Apply the product to the stain, allow it to work for 10-15 minutes to penetrate and break down the proteins, then launder the garment as usual.
One thing not to do when treating dairy stains is to use hot water, either to flush the stain or when selecting water temperature in the washer, as hot water will “cook” a dairy stain. Gross! So stick with cool or cold water.
The One Product I Use For Chocolate Stains
Quite by literal accident, I discovered a few years ago that Shout spray is amazing at removing chocolate from textiles. (Confession: The accident that led to this discovery involved eating chocolate in bed. It happens!)
For stains on upholstered furniture, carpeting or, um, white doona covers, spray a small amount of the Shout — maybe one or two pulls on the trigger — directly on the stains, then gently scrub at the area using a damp cloth or sponge.
For use on removing chocolate stains from clothes, saturate the stain with the Shout spray and rub the stained section of the fabric against itself to work the product in. Then, holding the fabric taut under cold running water, flush the stain while rubbing the fabric against itself under the stream.
It may be a bit of a hassle to get your hands on a bottle of Shout - you'll have to go to USA Foods or similar - but it's worked wonders for me.
A Note On Wipes
Generally speaking, I love Shout Wipes for on-the-go stain removal. I find they work much better than stain removal pens, which I suspect has less to do with the detergent and more to do with the difference between delivery systems — a wipe is just a better vehicle for applying a stain treatment to fabric than a pen. Plus, it’s easier to carry around those little individually wrapped wipes than it is a pen.
With that said, I was recently enjoying an ice cream with a friend (cherry dip for me, chocolate with rainbow sprinkles for her) and the bottom of her cone dripped all over her jeans. I had Shout Wipes on me because of course I did, so I whipped one out and had a go at her pants and … pfft. Not much happened!
The Wipes made a bit of a dent in the stains, but was nowhere near as effective as the spray stuff is. That isn’t to say that Shout Wipes aren’t a good option when you’re out and about, but I mention it to point out that they aren’t totally interchangeable with the spray stuff.